Tag Archives: Reading

I really didn’t like this book – but I’m still giving it four stars

I finished “18 Things” by Jamie Ayres a while ago, and decided to let it sit a simmer before I wrote a review. I considered not writing a review at all, because I’m not sure how to give this book, and the brilliant author, the justice she deserves. The fact is, I really didn’t like this book at all, but I’m still going to give it four stars. Let me explain.

This book grips you from the very first page and thrusts you into a nearly unending roller coaster of emotion. The story is about a girl who witnesses a tragic accident that takes her best friend and secret love’s life. (That’s not a spoiler – it happens in the first few pages.) From there on out, the book is about dealing with loss—overcoming this loss by creating a “bucket list” of 18 things to do.

Crud! Just writing that brought tears to my eyes again!

This is the thing. I read for enjoyment – to escape everyday life. This book is NOT THAT. I cried pretty much from the first page to the last page with a very brief tear-free intermission in the middle. Let me tell you – I have enough problems…I don’t need to be depressed while I’m reading, too!

Disclaimer – I sent this review to the author before I posted it… and she was surprised that I cried so much. She felt the “middle” was fun and light. I did feel the “intermission” but it was short lived for me. (Sorry)

But see, here’s the problem. I wouldn’t give a book a low rating because it was written so well it made me cry. I think it had exactly the emotional response that the author wanted. I couldn’t even deduct a star for lack of explosions, because there was one in the first few pages (well, kind of anyway)

So, why four stars instead of five?

For one thing… this is supposed to be a YA paranormal. I’d forgotten the genre while I was reading, because nothing paranormal happens. I understand why it was placed in the paranormal category (Can’t explain or I’ll spoil it), but this IS NOT a paranormal. If you only enjoy paranormal, you will probably cry through this and be frustrated – but I think that is a category error, not the author’s fault. So I’m not subtracting a star for that – I just thought I’d mention it.

All that aside — Here’s the reason for four stars…

As the novel was winding down, I started to feel safe again. Everything came together nicely. I was readying myself to give it five stars, but at the same time explaining that I didn’t enjoy reading it.

Then…

We hit the last chapter.

Did you hear that annoying sound? It was me grinding my teeth.

I’m one for a great surprise in an ending. Totally love a twist – in most cases. This one, however, kind of bothered me. To be completely honest, I felt cheated. Does that make it not brilliant?

No. It was brilliant.

It just made me a tad miffed. No… I had it right the first time. I felt cheated. I also started crying my eyes out again.

My husband kept feeding me tissues and told me to stop reading. I said “No! I need to finish this so I can stop crying!”

So I am subtracting a star for the ending, although I realize it was needed to set up the possibility for a sequel. To me though, it felt added on to make room for the next book. I’d have given 18 Things five stars without the last chapter.

So, this is the scoop: This book is a brilliant piece of contemporary fiction about dealing with death and learning to live your life again. While there is a slight paranormal edge that you might miss if you blink, this is NOT a paranormal novel.

Readers of contemporary YA will probably love this. I, unfortunately, cried myself silly though the whole thing.

Write a Story with Me #72: “Serious Charges” by Susan Rocan

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each week.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Here’s this week’s excerpt.  We hope you enjoy!

72- Susan Rocan

“These are serious charges that you’re bringing against Officer Dawes, Protector Sumner.”

Yoran stood before the High Council, sitting on their tall benches and peering down at him with suspicion. His stomach was in knots.

“I tolerate no insubordination on my ship,” he replied. “Dawes had the audacity to suggest I was consorting with the enemy. I could not let him undermine my authority.”

“Do you think Officer Dawes was consorting with the enemy?” one of the councilwoman asked.

Yoran knew he had to tread carefully. “No, Madam Castille, but I treat my ship as a dictatorship. Anyone who threatens the chain of command is committing treason, as far as I am concerned.”

The five members of the council huddled together, whispering and glancing at Yoran, occasionally. He clasped his hands tighter behind his back, concerned that he would soon be the focus of treason charges. Finally, they straightened and leaned back in their seats, blank-faced. Yoran could not tell whether the news would be good for him or not.

The President spoke. “It is our opinion that, while Officer Dawes was wrong to question the chain of command, you have charged the young man unjustly. He will be reprimanded and retrained to be more respectful in future. We want you to know, we have no intention of undermining your authority by lessening the charges you have pressed against him. We simply believe that the death penalty does not apply, here. As for you . . .”

Yoran’s face paled.

Want to read more?  See below for past excerpts.

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Parts One – Sixty-five Click Here

Part Sixty-Six – Joe Owens

Part Sixty-Seven – Shayla Kwiatkowski

Part Sixty-Eight – Anmol

Part Sixty-Nine – Norah Jansen

Part Seventy – Shannon Burton

Part Seventy-One – Vanessa Jane Chapman

Part Seventy-Two – Susan Rocan

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

Kate Johnston — TAG!  You are “It”

Write a Story With Me Contributors

shayla kwiatkowski gryphonboy Jennifer M. Eaton Vanessa Chapman
Siv Maria Sharon Manship shanjeniah Vikki (The View Outside)
Danielle Ackley-McPhail Richard Leonard susanroebuck Jenny Keller Ford
aparnauteur kaidamian Eileen Snyder Elin Gregory
Joe Owens anelephantcant mysocalledDutchlife Nicky Wells
norahdeayjansen Julie Catherine Ravena Guron
Anmol     jiltaroo 4amWriter mywithershins

1 swivel

Keep it to yourself, jerk! — Rule #28 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever

Writing_A_Great_Novel

I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #28

28: If an opinion expressed through dialogue makes your POV character look like a jerk, allow him to think it rather than say it. He’ll express the same opinion, but seem like a lot less of a jerk.

Hmm.  Depending on how this is used, he can still look like a jerk just thinking about it.

I’d like to expound on this and say be careful of making your main character unlikable. Period. I’m reading a novel for crit right now in which I really can’t stand the MC, and she has no concrete reason for doing the dumb things she does.  If I had picked up this novel in a bookstore, I would have put it back by now.

The author said “It’s good that you don’t like her. I’m doing my job.”

This author just doesn’t get it, and is waiting with bated breath for rejection #215 on her queries.

You need to connect with the main character.  No one is going to want to read about a character they do not care about.  They can be a jerk, but you have to make them relatable, and your reader has to care.

If you don’t have that engagement with your reader, you don’t have an audience.

Jennifer___Eaton

Just how good is the first line of your manuscript?

I recently had the opportunity to chat with a submissions editor (you never know who you’ll run into at a coffee shop) and we had a discussion about first lines of a book, and how important they are.

I knew already how important it was to hook a reader quickly, but Mike told me that he actually knows by reading the FIRST LINE if he is going t request a full or not when he reads through submissions.

Wow.

Now Available from Jennifer M. EatonThat’s not much time to make a first impression, is it?

That’s why I jumped at the chance to post ONLY MY FIRST LINE for “The First Day of the New Tomorrow” over at The Ladies Cave website today.

http://theladiescave.blogspot.ca/

Hop on over.  This line obviously grabbed my editor’s attention.  Tell me what you think!

But while you still here…

What’s your first line?

Do you think it has the goods to grab a reader/editor in once sentence?

JenniFer_EatonF

Rule #16 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever

Writing_A_Great_NovelI’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #16

16: Start scenes late and leave them early.

This is something that seems to come naturally to me, but I have seen people struggle with it.  This goes the same for “condensing” a dialog to make it appear like a longer conversation, but only giving the key points.

You don’t have to show the whole conversation from “hello” to “goodbye”.  It is completely acceptable to “fade out” once the important information has been relayed to the reader so you don’t have to bore them with the dull stuff that doesn’t matter.

The trick is to do it in a way that doesn’t make the reader feel like they have missed out on anything.

This is an art form, and the best way to learn it is to read, and read a lot.  While reading, flag the conversations that you really liked, and go back to them when you are done, and look at them out of context.

Why did they work for you?  Did the author convey unnecessary “fluff”? Did they get to the point and fade out?

Learn from what others have done, and try to work it into your own writing.

Remember:  Only the important info. Take the meat and leave the potatoes behind.

Jennifer___Eaton

A Review of “The Romance Novel Book Club” by Kastil Eavenshade

After crying my eyes out over the last novel I read, I REALLY needed a light fun read. I’d heard great things about “The Romance Novel Book Club” so I decided to give it a whirl. It ended up being a combination of everything I wanted, and also what I was trying to avoid.

Very mild spoiler alert: I will try not to give too much away.

“The Romance Novel Book Club” starts out as a whimsical story told in a great voice. We have a woman who reads a lot of Romance novels, and is looking for a whirlwind relationship like that in real life. The comparisons she makes to romance novels are truly hysterical, and for quite a long time I was reading with a smile on my face.

Then…. There was this shift.

Same girl. Same plotline, but after messing up her umteenth relationship, she begins dealing with an addiction problem that was a bit disturbing to me.

Addiction of every kind makes me want to yack. I find it truly sad that anyone could become totally dependent on anything. (Other than chocolate… that’s okay in my book. 🙂 )

Anyway… same great voice… same joking… but I began to seriously dislike the main character. At one point, she picks on a wayward waiter that she sets up as the “bad guy” – Normally I would have thought of this person as the bad guy, too… but I just ended up feeling sorry for him. I was considering stopping reading, until – quite to my surprise – the character admitted to her friend that she thought she might have an addiction.

For some reason, that admission – and also having the warm and fuzzy that the author MEANT me to have all those uncomfortable feelings, made me feel better. So I kept reading.

Thanks goodness that from that point forward, things started to get better. Once she had admitted to the addiction, she had the will to try to fight it, and I started to like her again.

So, yes, this is a book that will put a smile on your face, but it will also scare you a little bit. The author tackles a very serious subject. This is NOT a Romance novel. You might consider it an Anti-Romance novel. But there is a romance in it as well… and a happy ending, thank goodness.

Oh… and this is DEFINITELY for the 18 and over crowd.

Scratch that. 21 and over.

Maybe 25 and over.

Not for the kiddies. Get it?

JenniFer_EatonF

A Review of “A Touch of Greek” by Tina Folsom

Okay, honestly, this is the type of book that I normally wouldn’t admit to reading. I’m not really even sure why I picked it up.  I was looking for something “light” to read and something brought this to my attention, so here we are.  Ugh… I’m embarrassed to say that I really enjoyed “A Touch of Greek” [[cringe]]

The premise is that Super-Hunky Greek God Triton gets caught sleeping with the wrong woman.  Zeus gets ticked, and due to Triton’s history of womanizing he decides to teach Triton a lesson. He strips the young god of his powers and sends him down to Earth. He can only get his powers back if he can convince a mortal woman to love him.  And just for fun, this woman ends up being blind, so she cannot even be attracted to his godly good looks.

Yeah, yeah I know – the whole idea just makes me want to barf too, but I still liked it!

Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the writing was awesome.  In fact, I thought I was reading a middle grade book to start, and ageless Triton spoke like a middle-schooler in the early chapters.  He was totally unbelievable… but I pressed on because “something” and I’m not even sure what, held my interest.

By the end, I was really rooting for Triton.  I got scared when I should be scared, and happy when I should be happy, and really nervous when the God of the sea was not there to stop a natural catastrophe.

Come on!  Fall in love with him already!  Don’t you know thousands will die if he doesn’t get his powers back???? Geesh!

[Snicker] I am soooooo laughing at myself.  Despite this books flaws, it was genuinely entertaining.  I turned off my ever-present internal editor and just enjoyed a light, fun to read story.

I’ll subtract one star for the hokey beginning, and poor dialog from Triton in the early chapters, but I can forgive the rest for the genuinely fun read this was. And the writing seemed better as the novel progressed too, so it is quite possible that the tone of the writing in the early pages was a plot device that was just lost on me.

Rocket Science this is not, but sometimes ya gotta just relax and read something just for the fun of reading, you know what I mean?

JenniFer_EatonF

For Memorial Day, Remember. Read this post and remember to thank someone for all they’ve done for us.

This is a story that touched my heart. One everyone should read.  I can’t tell you how much this touched me.  It sounds like another silly dog story, until you hit that hook in the end.  If this does not make you cry, and want to support those fighting to keep our freedom, then I don’t know what will.

I don’t know if this is real or fiction, but either way it packs a punch

Reblogged from Jenny Keller Ford’s post from Sept 7, 2012

***

This is a great story…worth reading.

They told me the big black Lab’s name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly. I’d only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.

But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie’s advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn’t look like “Lab people,” whatever that meant. They must’ve thought I did.

But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes and a sealed letter from his previous owner.

See, Reggie and I didn’t really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too.  Maybe we were too much alike.

I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that. “Okay, Reggie,” I said out loud, “let’s see if your previous owner has any advice.” ____________ _________ _________ _________

To Whomever Gets My Dog:

Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie’s new owner. I’m not even happy writing it. He knew something was different.

So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.

First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he’s part squirrel, the way he hoards them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn’t done it yet. Doesn’t matter where you throw them, he’ll bound after them, so be careful. Don’t do it by any roads.

Next, commands. Reggie knows the obvious ones —”sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.”

He knows hand signals, too: He knows “ball” and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business.

Feeding schedule: twice a day, regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.

He’s up on his shots. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car. I don’t know how he knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows.

Finally, give him some time. It’s only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially.

And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you…His name’s not Reggie. He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name. But if someone is reading this … well it means that his new owner should know his real name. His real name is “Tank.” Because, that is what I drive.

I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’ve left Tank with .. and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter … in the “event” … to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he’d do it personally. And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word.

Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.

If I have to give up Tank to keep those terrible people from coming to the US I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.

All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.

Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight – every night – from me.

Thank you,

Paul Mallory

____________ _________ _________ _______

I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure, I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.

I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.

“Hey, Tank,” I said quietly.

The dog’s head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.

“C’mere boy.”

He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn’t heard in months. “Tank,” I whispered.

His tail swished.

I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.

“It’s me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me.” Tank reached up and licked my cheek.

“So whatdaya say we play some ball?” His ears perked again.

“Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?”

Tank tore from my hands and disappeared into the next room. And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.

***

http://jennykellerford.wordpress.com/2012/09/07/wet-nose/

The Dreaded Parent-Teacher Conference – Dealing with a child with behavioral issues: Our Journey with the Total Transformation #11

Do you love parent teacher conferences?  We used to be bored by them as teacher after teacher raved about our sparkly overachievers.  Now they are a time when we cringe.  So, after eight weeks of our behavioral program, how did it go with Littlest Dude’s teacher?

My husband went to the conference live.  I was on speaker phone.  I cringed when I heard another voice other than my child’s teacher on the other line.  Oh no… the reading teacher.

My cringe soon melted away to tears.

***“He’s like a different kid.  He used to just sit there and look bored, now he is engaged, responsive, and totally into school.  Whatever you guys are doing, it is totally paying off.”***

Neither of them could stop raving about how well he was doing.  His reading is improving, his comprehension is improving, he always raises his hand.  His teacher even described times when she saw him “almost” do something wrong, but she could tell that he was problem solving, and made the right decision.  The relief I felt… you can’t imagine!

So what about the remedial reading? Apparently it is not remedial reading like when I went to school.  This actually is “an opportunity” like they said in the letter.  They hand pick kids for this program who are really engaged to give them a jump start.  It’s like a reading club where they will have fun, play on computers, and not even know that they are advancing.  So exciting!

***“Mommy, did you forget that it was my bedtime?”***

Oh!  And this week he actually said to me:  “Mommy, did you forget that it was my bedtime?”  (He didn’t want to stay up past his bed-time, because that’s not what good boys do)

8:  The Parents Workshop DVD – This is a DVD of a live workshop run by the doctor who created the program.  I’m hoping for some grand enlightenment to keep the system working, because my greatest fear now is things slipping back to the way they were.

The Struggle Continues – Putting the plans into action – Our Journey with the Total Transformation #10

Last week I tried something new to get my youngest and middle child to sleep.  My 9 year old went to bed right away.  My youngest, literally seconds after agreeing to the new incentive, started screaming about it.  I did what I needed to do.  I gave the “good” mark to the older child, and wrote “No” next to my younger child’s name.  The next morning, I received a call at work from my husband… My youngest had checked the chart and saw “no” next to his name.  I explained that this was the “First Time Club” and in order to win, you needed to go to bed the first time asked, no exception.  (This is what he agreed to seconds before flipping out when I let them know it was bedtime)  He was not happy, but the really good thing is he DID NOT FLIP OUT.

Over the weekend, when they would have received the “reward”, there was friction.

“But I was good last night”.

Oh!  It’s so hard when they throw the truth at you.  Deep breath.  “Yes, you were good last night, but you need to go to bed five nights in a row to earn the reward of slumber parties on the weekend.”

Again, the negotiator in me wanted to give in, because he was good… but I stuck to my guns… and neither of us was happy.  Hopefully though, what I just taught him is that I will NOT negotiate and give in if he’s only good one day.  He needs to be good all the time… Let’s see how it goes.

Follow-up;  We received a note from school last night that Littlest Dude has the “opportunity” for remedial reading instruction after school a few days a week.  I’m okay with it.  I’m just sad because I thought he was getting better.  How can a kid that gets 100% on his spelling tests need remedial reading?  I guess I need to find time at night to read to him more. ERGH.  So hard to find enough time to do everything you need to do.

Follow-up#2: Littlest Dude has to sit at the detention table for the rest of the week at lunch because they asked him to sit down three times.  Ugh.  How can you coach your kid when you are not there to use the program with him? (And his teacher is not at lunch either) His Dad did the eight step with him when he got home.  I hope Little Dude understands.

Lesson 7:  How to stop it before it starts:  Yes PLEASE!  I need some wisdom here!

This gives a set of steps and actions to help your child to NOT have a problem.  The scary thing is, this is something I can teach him, and then he has to do it on his own.  I am not always going to be there when a friend is mean to him.  I am not always going to be there when he wants to run in the cafeteria.  This part is HIS.

He was excited to sit down and do this, but by the second question he was over it, and started to act out a bit.  I decided to make it more fun by acting out his most recent “problem” the way it happened first, and then we worked on how he could have managed it better.  We ended up giggling about it, and practicing the “right way” again.  Hopefully, it will work.

It’s up to you now, Littlest Dude.